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Gibson and Simmons awarded for standout 2012-13 campaigns

Jasmine Tate

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Although the Lady Lions faced many challenges during the season and ended 11-18 overall and 4-14 in the Southland Conference, the hard work and skill of the athletes was recognized as two post players receiving All-Conference honors.
Head coach Lori Davis Jones recognized senior Brandi Simmons and junior Aja Gibson to the 2012-13 All-Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Teams last Monday during the Southeastern Academic Banquet.
“To have two selected to first, second or third-team, I mean that’s a big deal for us: for the team and for the program,” said Jones. “It says a lot about what our conference opponents thought of them to select our two post players to third-team conference, because it’s a tough league. It’s a very tough league with a lot of very good players in it, so it’s a huge honor for them to be on third-team and to be voted by coaches and the SIDs to that, because that’s who votes on it: the coaches in the league and the Sports Information Directors together. It’s an honor for our program and for them to be recognized.”
Simmons came to the Lady Lions two years ago and was able to grow on and off the court. Her leadership and athletic skill brought the program unexpected recognition.
“For Brandi, it’s a culmination of two years of  hard work and a lot of ups and downs and a lot of trials and tribulations from where she’s come from to where she is now,” added Jones. “One thing I can say about Brandi is she came to practice every day and worked hard, and this is the reward of that. Unfortunately she won’t be taking our team to the conference tournament this year, but at least we can end with the recognition.”
This year adds to Gibson’s honorable mention recognition last year and gives her the opportunity to advance to the conference tournament and championship next season.  Gibson is 137 points away from joining 17 former Lady Lions for a career of 1,000 points.
“For Aja I think it’s a window of greater things to come for her next year,” said Jones. “Our expectation all along has been that she’s a conference player, an all-conference selection. To be third- team this year gives her good footing to go and have a strong senior campaign, get our team to the conference tournament, to the conference tournament championship at a higher seat.”
Although the team found out about the honors after the season and did not celebrate as a team, the coaches and members of the team were proud of the accomplishments of the two and are looking forward to the 2013-14 season.
“I didn’t really celebrate, but I was really proud of myself, really proud,” said Gibson. “It was a great honor. It means even though that our record didn’t come out how we wanted it to, that we do have good players here, and we do have a team that works hard and supports each other.”
The Lady Lions will begin spring training this week and are preparing for a better season in 2014. Although the team will not be able to rely on Simmons, Gibson is expected to grow and lead the team on and off the court.
“Aja is one of those students, people, young ladies that kind of cross all genres,” said Jones. “She is somebody that everyone wants to listen to, wants to talk to, wants to follow and wants to help engage in the process. We’re going to expect a lot more from her next year both on the court and in the locker room, and I think she’s up for it.”
Information on the honorees and other conference players from the 2013-14 season are available online at www.lionsports.net and www.southlandconference.org.

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